This weekend over 130 humanists from dozens of countries gathered in Auckland for a series of events hosted by the Humanist Society of New Zealand and the New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists. The events focussed on ending persecution against non-religious people around the world, as well as the discrimination they face in New Zealand.

The weekend included internationally acclaimed Human Rights campaigners speaking on countering violent extremism, with Twitter active with people participating all over the world in the day’s programme.

Speakers included

Andrew Copson, President of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, CEO of Humanists UK, and author of Secularism. Politics, Religion, and Freedom.

Dr Leo Igwe, Nigerian human rights campaigner and recipient of the 2017 Distinguished Services to Humanism Award for his pioneering work to end superstition-based human rights violations including witchcraft accusations.

Gulalai Ismail, Pashtun Human Rights Activist, from Pakistan

Recipient of Anna Politkovskaya Award  2017, Chirac Foundation Conflict Prevention Award- 2016 Laureate, Commonwealth Youth Award 2015, International Humanist Award 2014, 2013 NED Democracy Award, Recognized among 100 Leading Global Thinkers 2013, Honored by NED among “30 Under 30”,2013,Youth Action Net Fellow 2009.

Imtiaz Shams, Founder of Faith to Faithless, from the UK
Imtiaz Shams has been using his experience founding ‘tech for good’ start-ups to help apostates who leave conservative religions. In 2012, he began creating ‘underground railroad’ networks for ex-Muslims around the world. In 2015, he co-founded Faith to Faithless, an organisation working to reduce the stigma faced by ‘apostates’ of all religions.

Dr Leo Igwe from Nigeria
Nigerian human rights campaigner and recipient of the 2017 Distinguished Services to Humanism Award for his pioneering work to end superstition-based human rights violations including witchcraft accusations.

Te Henare, founder of the Community of Māori Atheists and Freethinkers and Eru Hiko-Tahuri, Heretical Hori
In the 2013 census 46% of Māori said they had no religion. However, Eru Hiko-Tahuri, who blogs and writes under the name The Heretical Hori, states that ‘there are very few Māori who would admit to being atheist”. Te Henare and Eru will speak about how there is no Māori word for atheist and why they created their online communities.

Joseph Bulbulia, School of Humanities, University of Auckland
Joseph was appointed the Maclaurin Goodfellow Chair in Theological and Religious Studies in 2018.  Bulbulia is regarded as one of the founders of the contemporary evolutionary religious studies and is one of four on the Senior Management Team of the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study, a 20-year longitudinal study tracking over 15,000 New Zealanders each year. He’ll be speaking about whether virtue is worth the effort.

Jackie Clark, Aunty in Charge, The Aunties
Jackie is the interface between a number of community organisations, and a group of people called The Aunties whose primary focus is to provide the material needs for the people who use the services of those organisations. She inspires and motivates thousands of people across New Zealand to respond to immediate needs with compassion and care.

Catherine Low, Manager of Community, Effective Altruism
Catherine is a founding member of Effective Altruism New Zealand, and organisation that applies evidence and reason to determine the most effective ways to improve the world.

Tanya Jacob and David Hines from Secular Education Network talking about challenging religious instruction taking place in New Zealand state primary schools.

Videos of the sessions will be made available in due course.